GRUESOME acts of violence against women no longer shock people. How else does one explain society’s indifference to Thursday’s incident in which two young women were hacked to death on the streets of their village in Sanghar district? It is hard to understand how the girls’ own uncles could be the ones who dragged their nieces out onto the streets and murdered them for ‘dishonouring’ their family name. No crime in the world calls for such a violent response, but that makes little sense to those whose false notions of honour prevent them from thinking rationally or humanely. Any streak of independence on the part of a girl must be punished. In this case, the girls were discovered outside their homes at midnight with two men and that led to their death. The murderers then handed themselves over to the police with not an iota of remorse, proud that they had done “the right thing”. What message does that send to young rural women who dream of pursuing their own lives with partners of their own choice? In order to bring about a change, those who hold on to age-old values that have no relevance in today’s context must be enlightened on the evils of their customs. Until that happens, crimes like throwing acid on women, cutting off their noses and killing them for ‘dishonouring’ the family honour will continue, as they do on a daily basis throughout the country.
Laws alone cannot change the situation, though their strict enforcement is vital. Until perpetrators are caught, prosecuted and duly punished, men will believe they can get away with their actions. Women too will refuse to step forward to report crime, for they will believe that there is no recourse to justice. The government must do its job and address this steep rise in crimes against women. Society too needs to step out of its groove and play its role by galvanising communities to take on the oppressors. The intelligentsia must play a more active role in enlightening the people about the primitive customs and traditions they follow. Unless this is done, many deep-rooted problems of violence against women will continue.